Facing It by Sam Gainsborough

Facing It by Sam Gainsborough

His favorite logline for the film seems to be "A lot of love, 240KG of plasticine, and a whole load of life". NFTS graduated director Sam Gainsborough makes his stop-motion graduation film about not letting things out - and he has a lot of things to let out, in one animation form or another.

As Sean waits anxiously in the local pub, he is forced to explore his own unhappy memories and relationships in an evening that will leave him changed forever - Film Synopsis

The film, whose motto was from the start “repression will destroy you”, as Gainsborough tells Zippy Frames, was selected both at Animafest Zagreb (and won the Best Student Film Award), Annecy Festival, and Encounters Short Film Festival, among a lineup of another festivals. 

Watch Facing It:

Gainsborough and his co-writer Louisa Wood (with a background in live-action) had initially two different approaches and angles; 3 months of hard work, and about fifty different incarnations of the story afterwards, they settled into the final version. Message was always the same for the creative team: all people have flaws and you should take comfort in the fact that no one is perfect, whether it’s your friends, your parents, or you.

Its 7 minutes are full of scenes, not one of which is spared. "There were many different incarnations of the animatic before we shot the film so by the time we went into production we were very sure that every shot in the film needed to be there".  Flashbacks to the character's child life illuminate (in a setting that brings to mind Norman MacLaren's Neighbours) what and why has been repressed. For Gainsborough, non-linear narrative makes it harder to predict (and more interesting) where the story is going to take us.

A film’s technique should resonate with the story, and the mixed technique of the film is something to be discussed. Facing It is not an exclusively claymation film; actors were being used and puppet heads were constructed. Plasticine went on top of that to represent facial expressions -and, ultimately, human emotional responses. The UK director loves experimental animation anyway, but here the issue to be addressed was more specific:

"It was important to me that underlying the surreal plasticine faces, there is a world that is very real", Gainsbororough explains. "Ultimately it is a film about real people, and I love the fact that you can see their real human hands. The claymation exaggerates the way the main character feels about everyone else, but underlying his own perception, they are essentially just normal people".

The personal struggle to find your own voice and hold on to it is evident in the film,  as well as the obstacles. These usually take the form of a powerful image of a hand repeatedly shutting Shaun's mouth. "That was one of the first images: the first was actually a image of a hand covering the main character's eyes. That got me thinking about what the hands could do and what the hands could mean".

in a scene where Shaun's face fill the entire screen, Gainsborough animated his face the size of a table top;  this allowed him to make the plasticine feel like water, capturing his emotional state for that particular moment in the film. "It was so big that it gave me blisters all over my hands when I animated it", he remembers.

Ultimately, Gainsborough wanted to make people question whether they are living how they truly want to. The film lives up to the aim: it is a powerful, empathetic reflection of our own perception of ourselves, and the clever (but destructive) ways we use for self-censorship; one of the stop-motion gems of the year.

Facing it (2018)  - Facebook Page

SAM GAINSBOROUGH - Director/Animator/Co-Screenwriter . Sam Gainsborough graduated from Bournemouth University in 2013 in Screenwriting for Film and TV. Sam spent the next few years directing animated music videos and promos for a variety of clients including Universal, Island Records, Spinnin’ Records and Fabric London. In 2014/15 he worked as a New Talent Director at Halcyon, represented by Las Bandas Be Brave and continued to pitch and create animated work. Sam eventually went on to study Directing Animation at the National Film and Television School, where he combined his background in narrative storytelling with the bazar animation techniques he had become fascinated with. Currently Sam is developing his second short film, continuing to mix stop-motion/pixilation techniques with live action. 
LOUISA WOOD - Co-Screenwriter
BRUNO GRILO - Cinematographer
FIONA GUEST - Production Designer
GARRY DAVID FROST - Production Manager
JENNY MARTIN - Production Co-ordinator
ADAM WOODHAMS - Sound Designer & Dubbing Mixer
JACK NEWTON - Composer
OLIVER BUUS - Lead Compositor
DANIEL QUIRKE - Compositor
LAURA JANE DART - Colourist & Online Editor


Want to read more free articles like this?


Keep this professional animation journalism effort relevant and updated. Become our patron


Related Articles


Zippy Frames is the premier online animation journal promoting European and Independent Animation animation since 2011

[email protected]

Zippy Frames

Quick Links